New Zealand Permanent Mission Geneva, Switzerland

Interactive dialogue: Special Rapporteur on Water and Sanitation

Interactive dialogue: Special Rapporteur on Water and Sanitation - 24th session, Human Rights Council. Delivered by Ambassador Amanda Ellis 11 September 2013.

Thank you Mr President.

New Zealand welcomes the opportunity today to engage with Special Rapporteur Albuquerque on her visits to Tuvalu and Kiribati last July. Ms Albuquerque I begin by thanking you for putting the important issue of access to safe drinking water and sanitation in the Pacific on the Council’s agenda. The New Zealand Government recognises the very real challenges many small, low-lying atoll countries in the Pacific face in these areas and is committed to working with Pacific governments to address them. Special Rapporteur, your report also makes an important connection between the situation of access to water and the effects of climate change. NZ’s commitment to improving water infrastructure management in the Pacific is an important part of our climate change support to the region.

The aim of New Zealand’s investments in the region is to help communities better manage their water resources and become more resilient. Last week our PM announced a further $5million initiative to help 5 low-lying Pacific countries vulnerable to water shortages, including Tuvalu and Kiribati, to better manage their fresh water resources. We have already funded household and community rainwater storage facilities for more than one million litres of rainwater in Kiribati’s capital, Tarawa. We firmly agree with the Special Rapporteur that the international community needs to ensure that assistance it provides supports sustainable, affordable outcomes. We further agree that in order to secure these objectives, international assistance needs to provide “software” not just “hardware” and to focus on maintenance and operation of existing systems able to be managed by local communities. It is for these reasons that the projects we will support will focus on practical steps such as ensuring gutters are properly connected to storage tanks, maintaining storage facilities and training national water security officers to monitor water levels and help communities be better prepared.

In both your visit reports, Ms Albuquerque, you talk about the need to ensure donor coordination, as well as national ownership of water and sanitation policies and projects. Recognising the need to do more work in this area, we are taking steps to ensure effective coordination and leadership by our partner governments in Tuvalu and Kiribati. We do feel there have been some good examples of donor coordination, such as that demonstrated in response to the 2011 water shortages in Tuvalu and New Zealand’s $60 million development partnership with China, led by the Cook Islands to provide potable water for the island of Rarotonga. However we recognise there is always the need to do more to ensure effective coordination and are taking steps to achieve this.

In concluding, we thank you again for your valuable reports and would welcome any indication of further work or follow-up you intend to do on this important issue in the region.

Thank you Mr President.


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